Reviews

Love, Peace and Robbery

Reviews

Back by popular demand, Liam Heylin’s comedic crime caper is hilarious in its portrayal of two hapless criminals who are under curfew and are trying to go straight but can’t resist one last heist. Set in Cork, the play opens with Ciaran Bermingham playing a frisky dog belonging to Darren (Shane Casey).

Bermingham, who plays a number of roles, is side-splittingly funny as the dog which goes barking and panting into the auditorium. It sets the tone for an evening of laughter, much of which derives from the use of the colourful Cork vernacular.

Gary (Aidan O’Hare) is the older of the two men. He is desperate to get back on track with his girlfriend. When it transpires that his girlfriend’s son, Shane, needs money to go on a trip with his football club to Old Trafford, Gary resignedly decides to rob a sub-post office with Darren.

First produced in 2007, the reference to the plethora of JCBs in Cork city indicates the Celtic Tiger and its building frenzy. Clearly, the two men haven’t benefited and see no way of prospering other than robbing.

While full of bravado, there’s an underlying sense of despair, particularly from Gary who exudes world weariness. Darren is a hyper individual who isn’t the brightest. In one surreal scene, his dog starts to talk to him. While this garners lots of laughs, it underscores how lonely Darren is. He connects with the dog in a way he fails to do on the phone to his girlfriend in America.

Director Donal Gallagher cleverly depicts the raid happening side by side with a garda interviewing a witness. In other words, there is no question of the criminals getting away with their crime.

The robbery is really a vehicle to highlight the men’s desperation and lack of alternatives in a world that sees them as scumbags. But there is a vaguely hopeful side to Darren. He makes a promise that when he gets out of prison, he is going to read a book.

Star Rating: 4/5

Album: Broken Bells

After The Disco

By Marc O’Sullivan

Broken Bells are less a super group than a super duo. Brian Burton aka Danger Mouse and James Mercer aka The Shins first collaborated on Broken Bells’ self-titled debut album in 2010. Burton is the better-known of the two, having worn several hats as an artist and producer: he was one half of Gnarls Barkley with singer Cee-Lo Green, and more recently produced U2’s forthcoming album.

After The Disco opens with the perfect pop confection of Perfect World, a track whose pounding drums and insistent keyboard riff set the tone for the album. On ‘Perfect World’, the narrator asks of the London moon that it will “help me stumble home” after a night on the tiles.

The trouble is that so much of what follows is so repetitive. This is less an album of songs than a series of variations on a theme.

One track after another follows the same template: a firm drumbeat, a distinctive bass-line and washes of keyboards and synths. It’s the kind of music anyone can make in their bedroom nowadays: the wonder is that such successful artists would bother to do so in the studio.

Oddly enough, the better songs are stacked towards the end of the album. Medicine, with its utterly infectious ‘ooh-uh-uh’ motif, is the most obvious single, and is preceded and followed by two other decent tracks, ‘Lazy Wonderland’ and ‘No Matter What You’re Told’.

But then, just when things are looking good, the album closes on ‘The Remains of Rock’n’roll’, a track so cliched it even includes — whisper it — a guitar solo.

James Mercer’s vocals are more than adequate for what is required of him: while not a star singer, he is certainly effective. The the lyrics are cleverly constructed, though neither he nor Burton could never be accused of having very much to say.

As one might expect of Burton/Danger Mouse, the production on After The Disco is impeccable. The project has the kind of pop sheen that should see it ease its way onto the airwaves and into the charts. The days when either half of Broken Bells might be concerned about his indie cred are safely in the past.

After The Disco is the sound of an act that has tasted mainstream success and would very much like more of the same.

Star Rating: 3/5

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